Emotional Reactions to Health Status Changes and Emotional Well-Being Among HIV-Positive Persons with Limited Reading Literacy

Kalichman, Seth C.; Rompa, David
December 2000
Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings;Dec2000, Vol. 7 Issue 4, p203
Academic Journal
People living with HIV-AIDS experience emotional distress in response to negative changes in their health status. The current study hypothesized that individuals with poorer health literacy skills would evidence greater emotional distress in response to negative changes in health status compared to persons with higher health literacy skills. HIV positive persons (N = 294) completed anonymous surveys that included measures of depression and social support and a subset of 98 participants completed two experimental vignettes depicting a person receiving test results showing an increase in HIV viral load (negative health changes) followed by a vignette suggesting decreased viral load (improved health changes). Responses to affective reactions and coping strategies indicated that persons with lower health literacy skills more strongly endorsed negative affective states and maladaptive coping strategies compared to persons with higher health literacy skills. In addition, lower health literacy was associated with greater symptoms of affective depression and poorer social support, whereas higher literacy was associated with greater negativistic thinking. Findings suggest the need for patient education and counseling regarding changes in health status among people living with HIV-AIDS, particularly persons with limited health literacy skills.


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